Just after midnight on Monday, police were called to Queens where they discovered Maria Fuertes lying in the street

By Elaine Aradillas
January 10, 2020 09:43 PM

A 21-year-old Queens man was apprehended Friday in connection with the death of a 92-year-old woman who was brutally attacked earlier in the week, a spokesperson for the New York Police Department confirms to PEOPLE.

Reeaz Khan was taken into custody and charged with second-degree murder and sex abuse, according to police. He has not yet appeared in front of a judge and a bond had not been set.

Just after midnight on Monday, police were called to Queens where they discovered Maria Fuertes lying in the street “unconscious and unresponsive,” New York Police Department said in a press release obtained by PEOPLE.

“Multiple cameras in the vicinity showed an unknown male approach Fuertes from behind,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison said during a press conference Friday before Khan’s name had been released.

“There was some sort of physical contact between Ms. Fuertes and this unknown male causing them both to fall to the ground where they landed behind a parked car. The perpetrator and victim were out of view for approximately four to five minutes.”

Reeaz Khan
NYPD Detectives/Twitter

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NYPD released surveillance images of the alleged attacker and asked the public for help. After numerous tips, police said, they apprehended Khan.

Fuertes was taken to the hospital shortly after the attack where she pronounced dead at 2:35 a.m., officials said at the conference.

The medical examiner conducted an autopsy the following day and Harrison said, “There were contusions around her neck as well as injuries around her private area.”

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Fuertes was a known fixture in the area who was known to take walks at night, he added. “She will be missed.”

Fuertes’ son, who was not named, spoke to local TV station CBS2.

“Why did he have to kill her? What did she do to him?” Fuertes’ son told CBS2 through a translator, it stated on their website. “My mom never hurt anyone.

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“Why did he have to kill her, that degenerate? He’s a degenerate. I wish I had him in front of me right now. I wish I could have him in front of me so I could spit in his face.”

Fuertes’ death has sent shockwaves throughout her Queens neighborhood, where residents say she lived her entire life, NBC New York reported.

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“If something like this can happen to an old lady like this, what else is going to happen to any other female,” neighbor Aneil Ram told NBC New York.

Ram also spoke of Fuertes’ love of cats, sharing her doorstep was always filled with cat food cans.

“She lived for her cats,” Ram told NBC New York. “She lived for her family, and it’s a very sick thing, what happened to her.”